The intelligence operative who duped at least one of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers in a bid to quash the sexual assault allegations against the now-disgraced Hollywood producer has been identified as an Israeli woman named Stella Penn Pechanac.
According to a report Thursday in the the Daily Mail, Penn Pechanac works for Black Cube, the private Israeli intelligence firm that Weinstein hired to suppress allegations he sexually assaulted and harassed dozens of women.
Pechanac was introduced to one of Weinstein’s main accusers, Rose McGowan, last year using the alias “Diana Filip” and posing as a women’s rights advocate working for a London-based investment company, the report said.
Pechanac met with McGowan on several occasions to determine whether the actress was planning to go public with her rape allegation against Weinstein, and even obtained the unpublished manuscript of the actress’s memoir.
The New York Times reported that, in 1997, Weinstein reached a $100,000 settlement with McGowan, then 23, after an incident in a hotel room during the Sundance Film Festival.
The only reference to Pechanac online is a brief bio of her involvement in an educational job-placement initiative. According to Recalculating the Educational Route, Pechanac immigrated to Israel in 1994 from Sarajevo in the former Yugoslavia.
She served as a lieutenant in the Israeli Air Force and is a graduate of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, as well as the prestigious Nissan Nativ acting school. She speaks Serbo-Croatian, Hebrew, English and conversational Spanish, and currently lives in Jaffa with her husband, whom she married in 2014.
Before immigrating to Israel during the Bosnian war, Pechanac’s family converted to Judaism from Islam. During the Holocaust, her grandparents hid Jews in their Sarajevo home, which was situated across from the Gestapo’s Yugoslavia headquarters.
Through their connections, the Pechanacs fabricated Christian identification documents for dozens of Jews to flee to Italy and Palestine.
Her grandfather was jailed for his efforts, and later sent to a concentration camp where he was killed. In 1985, the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial honored the Pechanacs as “Righteous Gentiles.”
Nearly a decade later, in the thick of the Bosnian conflict, Israel evacuated the Pechanacs on the last convoy of Jews rescued from the war-torn city.
‘Women in Focus’
During her 2016 meeting with McGown, Pechanac claimed to work for a London-based firm named Rueben Capital Partners. The bogus firm billed itself as “one of the UK’s most prominent providers of investment management services to wealthy individuals, foundations and charities,” according to a cached version of its website that appears to have been taken offline earlier this week.
The now-defunct site also had a section dedicated to “Women in Focus,” an initiative ostensibly dedicated to “combating all forms of discrimination against women in the workplace, but also work towards promoting the inclusion of women in business — actively and at all levels.”
Pechanac did not immediately respond to a Times of Israel email request for comment.
The address listed for Rueben Capital Partners’ headquarters in London is home to an office space rental company.
Earlier this week, The New Yorker revealed that Weinstein employed Black Cube for $1.3 million in order “stop the publication of the abuse allegations against Weinstein.”
The report said that during the one-year period the Tel Aviv-based firm worked for Weinstein, Black Cube agents targeted dozens of individuals to collect personal information about them, including their sexual histories, in a bid to prevent them from publicly accusing Weinstein of sexual harassment or assault.
Hadashot news (formerly Channel 2) reported Tuesday that Weinstein was referred to Black Cube by former prime minister Ehud Barak. Barak admitted to making the connection to the TV station, but said he did not know why Weinstein was interested in the company’s services.
On its website, Black Cube bills itself as a “select group of veterans from the Israeli elite intelligence units that specializes in tailored solutions to complex business and litigation challenges.”
The private intelligence agency declined to comment, saying it does not discuss its clients as a matter of policy, but stressed that its work is always legal.
Weinstein was said to have closely monitored Black Cube’s efforts as it was ongoing, although his lawyers worked with investigators as well. This included David Boies, who is most famous for having represented former vice president Al Gore in the highly-consequential Supreme Court case Bush v. Gore.
In the month since The New Yorker and The New York Times published allegations of serial predatory behavior by producer Weinstein — some 100 women have now accused him of misconduct ranging from harassment to rape — people who said they had been victimized have felt emboldened to voice allegations against other men who had been seen as untouchable.
Weinstein denies any non-consensual relations.
Since the the allegations were published, every project linked to The Weinstein Company, co-founded by Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob, is now toxic, and their film company is on the verge of bankruptcy.
Last month, the Producers Guild of America announced that Weinstein had resigned his membership, and the group opted to impose a lifetime ban on him. The guild called it an unprecedented step.
The affair and its fallout are being seen as a watershed in the US entertainment industry and beyond as powerful men — including two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey — are called out as abusers.
Agencies contributed to this report.